Review : 50 Years of the Leyland National DVD

Leyland Nationals at Gaydon celebrating the 50th anniversary

It’s been months in the making, but the new DVD-Video charting the 50th Anniversary of the launch of the Leyland National has gone on sale, and you can order it now. It’s called 50 Years of the Leyland National and is an in-depth account of the life and times of the advanced and very effective bus with a styling flourish from Michelotti.

Mike Humble and John Clancy have joined forces once again to follow up their Codename R40 – Rover 75/MG ZT DVD-Video, with a similarly detailed and personal account of an iconic vehicle from the Leyland stable. The Leyland National bus was first launched in 1972 and soon became a common sight across the UK and around the world.  

This has been a full-on year for the National, with numerous events across the country celebrating its 50th year. Mike and John went on to document commemorative events at both Whitehaven – taking a visit to the Lillyhall factory where the National was built – and the British Motor Museum, Gaydon.  

A further day at the Wythall Transport Museum followed and the team also takes a look at the most interesting of Leyland National derivatives in the form of the Railbus, with a detailed account from one of the managers who ran them.

Leyland Nationals at Gaydon celebrating the 50th anniversary

The main documentary runs for approximately 65 minutes and features Plant Manager David Quainton as well as Procurement Manager Barrie Wills (above) and Ken Hargreaves. Also included in the DVD-Video is extended coverage of a Q&A session at Gaydon with Barrie, Ken, and former driver, engineer and bus company executive Andrew Freeman.

In addition, there’s also a featurette on the Wythall Transport Museum with former Rover Group and Vauxhall Communications Director, Denis Chick, bringing the total running time up to about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

If you’re into the National, it’s definitely well worth seeking out this DVD-Video. It’s entertaining, detailed, and highly watchable, with some very interesting first-hand accounts of how the bus was developed and its subsequent service in the UK and abroad.

The archive material in this production is quite a sight to behold and was supplied from the personal archives of Greg Travers. Greg has the wonderful YouTube channel ‘Buses, Trams & Trains’ which is full of archive transport material well worth seeking out.

Keith Adams

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